MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. --
Agile Combat Employment capabilities are crucial to the modern fight. In an effort to create a lighter leaner footprint, save man hours, and support Lead Wing efforts, remote controlled tugs are being used to move aircraft around the flight line.
Airmen from 23d Maintenance Group recently completed training with TowFLEXX aircraft tugs to move aircraft in a more efficient way.
“Thinking outside the box on how we can reduce manning is really key,” said Tech. Sgt. Brandon York, 75th Fighter Generation Squadron, A-10 crew chief. “We only need two or three Airmen now, instead of pulling more people off the line to do a tow. Using TowFLEXX will allow us to be safer and more efficient.”
TowFLEXX is a fully electric remote controlled aircraft tug. The system provides a 132,000 pound towing capacity which allows for an array of aircraft to be maneuvered safely while reducing tow crew size.
Moody acquired a total of three TowFLEXX. Two TF-5’s and one HD-190. The 74th and 75th FGS finished training with TF-5’s in early December. In the new year, the 71st is scheduled to begin training with the TowFlexx HD-190 on the C-130J Hercules.
“We had eight A-10 crew chiefs who qualified to use TowFLEXX TF-5 recently,” York said. “The training required an hour of class time and then time on the flight line for hands on training with the equipment. A lot of our Airmen have had exposure to TowFLEXX at previous bases, but we have an upgraded model so the training was really good to get them brushed up on the new features.”
The initiative to bring TowFLEXX to Moody began two years ago. The transition from a man powered tug to a remote-controlled tug was awarded funding through Air Combat Command’s Spark Deputy Commanders Innovation Funds.
“Supporting the Airmen and their ideas for process improvement or innovations is my whole job,” said MSgt Kareem Samuel, 23rd Maintenance Group, chief of innovation. “When we received this idea from York, we recognized this could really improve HURREVAC aircraft movements as well as cargo weight reduction for deployments. This one little vehicle has the ability to fulfill many roles.”
Samuel went on to say that using the TowFLEXX allows for a greater protection of assets during movement into hangars.
“Making sure we safeguard equipment saves time and money,” he said. “Using the TowFLEXX in a HURREVAC allows us to fit more aircrafts into the hangar because we no longer have to account for the space a Coleman and towbar takes up.”
While TowFLEXX won’t fit every tow scenario, it is a solution for flight line maneuvers, HURREVACs’ and deployments.
“When we go to an ACE environment or a forward operating base we have to factor in the logistics of a Coleman and a towbar, Samuel said. “With TowFLEXX we are able to have a 15,000-pound weight reduction and going from a four-pallet position to only one saves a lot of space. We can drive the TowFLEXX onto the back of a C-130, take it to any location and tow aircraft and cargo with less manpower. Ultimately this saves on space, costs, and man hours while supporting Lead Wing functions.”